Incomes are higher and unemployment is lower in Central Queensland’s Bowen Basin communities than in non-mining regional areas according to a new study.
The study, undertaken by KPMG for the Minerals Council of Australia and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, also shows that educational attainment in Bowen Basin communities is higher.
Compiling for the first time the key standard-of-living measures and demographic profiles of Australia’s nine main mining regions, the study shows that mining has driven a three-fold increase in high-income earners.
In 2006, five per cent of the resident population in mining regions earned $2000 a week or more, but by 2011, this had increased to 13 per cent of the population compared with 5 per cent across regional Australia generally.
In the Bowen Basin 21 per cent of residents earn more than $2000 a week, up from 12 per cent in 2006 and compares with a state average of 5 per cent.
Unemployment in the Bowen Basin was just 2.5 per cent, compared with an average of 5.4 per cent across regional Australia.
Mining regions also score top marks when it comes to Year 12 completions – 41 per cent compared with the regional Australian average of 37 per cent. In the Bowen Basin the proportion is 44 per cent.
‘The findings put paid to claims that mining is hollowing out the regions in which it operates,’ said Michael Roche, Chief Executive of the Queensland Resources Council.
‘The resources sector is boosting incomes, attracting families and reducing unemployment.
‘The argument that fly-in-fly-out arrangements hollow out regional communities and get a free ride on local facilities also doesn’t wash.
‘The fact is that mining communities are on average growing more quickly than non-mining communities. In the five years to 2011, the population of Australia’s mining regions had grown at 1.5 per cent per year compared with 0.8 per cent for regional Australia more generally.
‘Mining companies also pay their way in their local communities. For example, in the Central Highlands Regional Council’s 2012-13 budget, mining makes up 42.5 per cent of all rates collected.
‘When you also consider the direct and indirect economic contribution of mining to Queensland’s regions, it’s clear that the resources sector plays an important role in these communities.
‘While the sector will always play its part to ensure the livability of regional centres, government must also continue to ensure that the supply of infrastructure and services traditionally in their realm keeps pace with demand to attract and retain people in regional areas.
Other mining regions examined were the Pilbara, Central-West (WA), Surat Basin, Galilee Basin, North West Queensland, the Hunter Valley, Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Central SA.